DirecTV pays $4bn for NFL

BSkyB recently upped its spend to secure exclusive TV rights to (most of) the English premiership soccer tournament. Now US pay-TV broadcaster DirecTV has further defied the recession by paying a record US$4bn to extend its existing National Football League (NFL) contract by a further 4 years.

DirecTV is currently paying $700m a year for its 5-year contract. The new extension kicks in for the 2011 season and runs for a further 4 years. But the price per year rockets a massive 43% to a memorable $1bn a year. The rights permit DirecTV to continue offering its ‘Sunday Ticket’ all-you-can watch bundle to fans.

The USA’s cable operators were reportedly bidding to steal the rights away from DirecTV. And cable does win some limited rights for the first time when it comes to out-of-market games. The main broadcast networks are due to renegotiate their rights (for ‘Monday NIght Football’ and similar transmission rights) – and all the signs are that the rates will go up. For example, ESPN pays the NFL $1.1bn a season, NBC pays a trifling $600m a season, and CBS pays $620m. Those deals all expire over the next two years.